Seychelles’ fisheries minister calls delayed payments by EU “disappointing”
Seychelles Fisheries Minister Jean-Francois Ferrari has called the delayed payment of compensation for the country’s seafarers working on European Union fishing vessels “disappointing.”
The minister blamed the delay of payments on the insistence of E.U. negotiators, who he said keep “asking for the same information in different formats,” Seychelles News Agency reported.
Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) said Seychellois seafarers had made 116 claims for payment, totaling SCR 11 million (USD 703,996 EUR 585,441), between 2005 and 2014, which have yet to be paid. These 10-year outstanding payments have been the subject of negotiation between a team from the Seychelles government and the E.U.
Ferrari observed that although there has been a consensus that 78 of the 116 have received no payment, no agreement has been made on the remaining 38 seafarer claims.
Furthermore, SFA said between 2014 to 2020, seafarers in Seychelles made 69 claims for payment, with 66 of those claims paid for a total of SCR 3.2 million (EUR 170,310 USD 204,799).
"There are no doubts from both parties that compensation needs to be paid to those seafarers and we hope that in two weeks' time we get clear feedback,” Ferrari said.
Despite the dispute on the delayed compensation for Seychelles seafarers by the E.U., in the first quarter of 2020, the two parties signed a six-year sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (SFPA) and associated implementing protocol, following months of delays.
The agreement set out “fishing opportunities for E.U. vessels, the financial compensation to be paid by the E.U. and the modalities of sectoral support to the fishing sector of the Seychelles.”
The agreement, which covers the period between February 2020 and February 2026, will see the E.U. pay EUR 5.3 million (USD 6.3 million) annually to the Seychelles. The agreement specifies EUR 2.8 million (USD 3.3 million) of the payment will be allocated “for the support of the fisheries policy of Seychelles.”
With the six-year agreement, E.U. fishing vessels from Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal will be allowed to fish in the Seychelles’ exclusive economic zone. The agreement is also part of the tuna network fisheries agreements in the Indian Ocean, including that provided for by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
Photo courtesy of the Seychelles Fishing Authority